A bunion, or hallux valgus, is visible as a bump on the side of the big toe; it reflects changes in the bony framework of the front part of the foot. In this case, the big toe leans toward the second toe rather than pointing straight ahead. When this occurs, it throws the bones out of alignment, which produces the bunion’s bump on the side of the foot. Bunions are a progressive disorder, occurring gradually due to the changing angle of the bones over the years. Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. Although wearing shoes that crowd the toes will not actually cause bunions, such footwear can sometimes cause the deformity to progressively worsen. Symptoms include pain, soreness, inflammation and redness, a burning sensation, and possible numbness. Nonsurgical treatment options include changing footwear, padding, activity modification, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ice, corticosteroid injections, and orthotic devices. A number of surgical procedures are available to remove the bump of bone and correct the bone structure and soft tissue changes of the foot.
“Many bunions will never cause problems, but some may worsen if left untreated. Untreated bunions can lead to further problems, such as arthritis in the joint of the big toe.”